Songwriter, music director, lyricist, writer and poet Salil Chowdhury predominated the music industry in the 90s. He has composed songs in over 13 languages, including 75 Hindi films, 41 Bengali films, around 27 Malayalam films. November 19 marks his 94th birth anniversary. Born in 1925 in Gazipur, he grew up in a tea plantation where his father used to work. His father had a collection of western classical music and he gradually started taking interest in it, especially on the compositions of Mozart. Playing instruments, such as flute, harmonium and esraj, was his favourite pastime, and his surroundings always inspired him to pursue folk music.
Chowdhury began his musical career with the Bengali film Paribortan (1949). His Mozart-influenced composition, Itna Na Mujh Se for the film Chhaya (1961), sung by Talat Mahmood and Lata Mangeshkar , spellbinds music lovers even today.
He enchanted the audience with his folk tunes in Bimal Roy’s film Kabuliwala (1961), where prolific singers like Hemant Kumar and Manna Dey sang his compositions. He has also worked with musical legends such as Mohammad Rafi, Usha Mangeshkar and Lata Mangeshkar .
At the beginning of his career, Salil Chowdhury was an active member of Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA), a cultural wing of Communist Party. Hemanta Mukhopadhyay was his fellow member. His time-less melodies include, Tootey Hue Khwabon Ne(Madhumati, 1958), O Mor Moina Go, Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli (Anand, 1971), and many others. Salil Chowdhury breathed his last on September 5, 1995.